For the past two years, Park City-based theater actor Steve Phillips has been working on a script about Mark Twain.
A few months ago, Barton had an idea to create a theatrical series called "Famous and Infamous" and spotlight two well-known personalities in separate segments of a two-hour show.
The first production, featuring Rembrandt and Mark Twain, will be at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., on Saturday, Aug. 31.
"The performances would be theatrical biographies of these historical characters," Barton told The Park Record. "While the characters appear live on stage, we'll have a rich array of video images of people, places and moments."
Barton conceived of the show because the Egyptian has the technology to bring the vision to the stage.
"We've spent a lot of time in our past year to upgrade our video and multimedia capabilities, because we want to integrate those things into our other live productions," he said. "So, we will use them to highlight the 'Famous and Infamous' production."
Barton said he feels a kinship towards Rembrandt because of his looks.
"Aside from my nose, I kind of resemble him," Barton said. "I also was interested in his life, because he was one of the first artists to paint what he wanted, rather than paint what others paid him to do.
"I also found that he never traveled more than 60 miles away from his birth place in the Dutch Republic," he said. "His life was also full of tragedy. Everyone close to him — children and wives died. But he was known as the man down the street who painted."
Barton said he had to wait until the right time to bring "Famous and Infamous" to the stage.
"This is an idea I've had for a long time, but I haven't been able to make it into a reality until now, because of all the fine technological gear we have with video, lighting, sound and the stage," Barton said. "In Rembrandt's piece, we'll show a lot of artwork of the time, so it will become interactive and dynamic."
The Mark Twain segment, on the other hand, will feature scenes and people from the life of Samuel Langhorne Clemons, who chose Mark Twain as a pen name after hearing it shouted on a riverboat.
"Mark Twain" is a water-depth measurement and, in riverboat terms, means two fathoms.
Phillips said he has always been fascinated with Clemons' life.
"I'm from a generation who read or, in some cases, were forced to read 'Tom Sawyer' and 'Huckleberry Finn,'" Phillips said. "In my case, I remember ordering 'Tom Sawyer' through a Weekly Reader catalog and then reading all of the Mark Twain books."
Phillips said he shared some of the same interests as the characters he read about.
"I spent my childhood growing up in Texas near a creek and we would build rafts and go fishing," he said. "Every summer we would go up to Illinois, but we'd make a detour and go through Hannibal, Missouri, where Mark Twain was born."
Phillips also has a scholarly interest in Clemons.
"He was known as a writer and lecturer, and had a dark side and experienced many tragedies in his life," Phillips said. "He was also quite the cynic and had the ability to make these pithy observations of life and saying things.
"I was an English major and was always taken in by his writings," he said. "Samuel Clemons was the first American writer to capture the colloquial voice, and when he did, he wrote in that vernacular that was kind of shocking to people."
Throughout his research, Phillips found that Clemons grew up in Missouri, which was part of the Confederacy
"He became a riverboat pilot and later joined the Hannibal Home Guard," Phillips said. "However, when he traveled west with his brother Orion to get away from it all, his attitudes towards slavery evolved, and you can see that in 'Huck Finn,' which was quite a damning observation about slavery."
Clemons passed through Kimball Junction on his way to Carson City, Nev., Phillips said.
"There wasn't a way station there at the time, so he stayed at a way station near Mountain Dell," Phillips explained.
The idea to create a Mark Twain script sprouted two years ago.
"He was a fascinating guy and I've always been interested in him," Phillips said. "Since I'm also an actor and interested in Park City history, I felt like I needed something to do and started writing the script two years ago."
Barton said this show is just the beginning.
"Our hope is to do something like this throughout the year and maybe even do a festival," Barton said. "We've already penciled in Charles Dickens and Irving Berlin for a weekend in December, and then we'll do Cole Porter and Jerome Robbins later."
Other characters waiting in the wings include Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra.
"The idea is to make these shows character driven," Barton said. "So we want to choose dynamic characters and actors who will be perfect to be able to bring them to life."
The Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., will present "Famous and Infamous," a two-man show performed by Randy Barton and Steve Phillips, on Saturday, Aug. 31, at 8 p.m. Barton, the Egyptian Theatre manager, will portray Rembrandt and Phillips will personify Samuel L. Clemons, also known as Mark Twain. The actors will each give a 45-minute presentation that will be highlighted by multimedia interactions. Tickets range from $15 to $25 and are available by visiting www.parkcityshows.com.